Yup... It's true. Now let's talk about it. Briefly.
What is soap?
Soap is made through an exothermic (releases heat) reaction called saponification. During this reaction, fats and oils are "saponified" or quite literally "turned into soap". Typically you don't want to use the word in it's definition but that's exactly what it means. Saponification means "to saponify", or, turn into soap. As the fats and oils saponify they get harder, creating the magnificent block of goodness we use to cleanse our skin of the nasty stuff it collects from everyday life and the environment around us.
In short... bar soap is a hard block of fats and oils.
What is lye?
Lye is an alkaline (very high pH) metal hydroxide originally derived from wood ashes. The process has become more refined and now is done by breaking down a salt water solution into different compounds. This "new" process is called the "chloralkali process". Lye most commonly refers to sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide makes bar soap, while potassium hydroxide makes liquid soap. Both are dangerous.
In short... sodium hydroxide lye is a caustic substance that makes a hard block of fats and oils. You cannot harden the fats and oils into soap without lye to cause the reaction.
When someone says you can make soap without lye by doing "melt and pour".... that's not lye free soap. Melt and pour soap is regular soap where the lye process has already been done for you. Let's say that again! It's not "lye free soap". It's soap that's been pre-made for you by professionals so you can color it, shape it and fragrance it without the fear of dealing with the lye.
So when some people say "lye free", what they really mean is "pre-made". This is not a discredit to melt and pour soapers! There's some very talented melt and pour artists. I love melt and pour as well! It just doesn't change the fact that sodium hydroxide is still on the ingredient list.
If someone is claiming that their soap is "lye free!" they are flat out LYing to you (Ha! That wasn't intentional, it just worked out that way).
Update #1: I will be discontinuing individual bubble bars after this year, so get them while you can!! Once I'm out of supplies to make them, I will not be making anymore for individual sale. They will, however, remain included in mystery boxes and gift sets.
Update #2: I will be turning my focus back on my original purpose. I feel like some of my purpose got lost over the years and I want to take my business in the direction I originally intended. You will see some product line changes, ingredient shifts, additions and discontinuations. I have a lot of great additions I'm working on and hopefully I'll have them all sorted out for you by the New Year.
My big bun girl is doing great. Her food aggression is actually gone. It was quicker than I thought but I'll take it. She's a fast learner. She has, however, taken to biting for attention. This is a bite that I really don't mind dealing with. Give a little yelp and they will stop but it means they want your attention and that's a good sign. It means they like you. Fay is a joy to have around and I'm super happy with her progress since she's been here.
Fayfay is still biting. She actually broke the skin this morning although I don't think it was intentional. It takes a long time to develop a bond with your bunny and we're only on day 5. I'm still learning what Fay does and doesn't like. How she does and doesn't play.
She didn't bite me tonight when I was filling her bowl, or when I was giving her veggies so progress is being made.
Building a bond with your bun can be a very long process, and it can be difficult. Here's a few things I do to help them trust me a little bit more.
1. Sit or lay on the floor. Rabbits are ground dwellers... Let them stay there. Everyone loves a bunny they can pick up, carry around and snuggle but most rabbits do not like that. I also tend to lean towards big rabbits and if they don't want to be picked up, you're going to know about it.
2. Start with petting the top of their head. This is the sweet spot for, I don't know... 99% of rabbits. They almost all love being pet on the top of their head.
3. Try to be observant. What does your rabbit like to play with? Provide them with toys they enjoy.
4. Spend time on their level. This goes with number 1. If you're just sitting around watching tv, watch it from the floor. Let them take an interest in you and see that you're not going to hurt them... Keep your movements small and slow.
5. Be patient. Rabbits are smarter than they're given credit for... but they're not a dog. While some may respond to their name, or be trained for commands... most are not like that. That sort of a bond takes a lot of trust and a lot of time. My Magnolia recognized when I was talking to her, and would play interactively with me. It also took 4 years to get to that point. I wish we had gotten there sooner. I lost her way too soon and I wish she was still with me, but now it's Faylene's turn to feel loved. Patience is so important.
Forgive me for not writing novels. I'm not an expert in rabbits, or rabbit behavior. I'm just a bunny mama sharing some of the tips that have worked for me in the past. With that, I hope this small tidbit helps someone with a brat bunny. Take your time. Give your bun time to chill out and get used to you. Let them have some time to realize they're not going back to a shelter.
If you've ever lost a pet that you just adored, you'll know where I'm coming from when I say that I'm pretty sure I was broken. I may still be broken. I lost my Magnolia on the 24th of August, 2020. As if 2020 didn't suck enough already, it had to take my bunny from me. Mags was just amazing. She loved me more than any bunny I had before her. We had our daily routines that took us years to work out but I loved them. I feel like a piece of me died with her.
Life has to continue as weird as it may feel. And it does indeed feel weird. There was a part of me that enjoyed peaceful sleep, and open space.
I'd like to introduce Faylene
..I just adopted Faylene yesterday from SE PA DE House Rabbit Society.
I've been calling her Fayfay.
She's a Californian weighing in at 12 lbs 12 oz. Big... Girl...
So, Faylene was found as a stray around 2 years ago. Her age is uncertain but I'm going to guess she's probably around 3 years old. Most likely she was either let go by her previous owner, or she got lost. I come to this conclusion because most wild rabbits have a lifespan of only 2 years due to predators, including human interference like hunting and vehicles. They're designed to try to survive in the wild, domestic rabbits are not. The fact she wasn't emaciated when she was found tells me she wasn't a stray for long, but rather got out of her habitat, or was released because she got much bigger and lived longer than the person thought she would. She may have been an Easter gift. 70% of all rabbits purchased for Easter gifts are surrendered within the first year. The cute newness wears off... they grow, and grow... They develop behaviors that people don't understand.
In the first 24 hours with Fay I've learned quite a lot about her personality.
1. She's very curious
2. She loves attention
3. She's food aggressive... we'll be working on this as of this morning.
4. She poops golf balls.
5. She's a big hay eater. Thank goodness.
6. Fay loves toys!
7. She's a chewer...
You saw me say Fay is food aggressive. This came out this morning when I was moving some of her food from her bowl, to an activity ball. She lunged at me once, and bit me after. The instinct here is to pull away (which obviously I did because, ow.) but the behavior still has to be dealt with. We're going to try different steps to see if we can correct it over the next few weeks.
Not in order we'll do these things:
Step 1: Move the food bowl to another part of the pen regularly. This says that I have control over where the food is, not her.
Step 2: Small "timeouts". I want Fay to understand that I control her "free time". Bad behavior means no exploring. Her pen has plenty of room for her to stretch her legs and then some so please don't think she's being cramped and couped up by any means.
Step 3: The bite wasn't a dominance bite, it was a food protection bite. I want her to understand that I'm the one who feeds her. I'll feed her by hand throughout the day so she associates my hand with giving, not taking.
Step 4: Asserting dominance. Fay needs to know that I'm the matriarch here, not her. Rabbits have a hierarchy. You need to be at the top of it or the little buggers will hop all over you. To do this, when a rabbit bites, gently place your hand on the top of their head and gently let your hand have some weight to lower their head to the floor. I stress GENTLY. This should not be an aggressive or forceful action. You're just saying, "No, I'm top bunny... calm yourself."
Step 5: Make a noise at the bad behavior. If they go to chew something and you don't want them to, make a noise to startle them into looking at the noise. If they go to do it again, make the same noise. They'll look again. This conditions them into thinking there will be a noise in response to that action, and they typically won't like it. You can do this with biting too. Maggie was the exception to this rule. She didn't care and did everything she wasn't supposed to do anyway, but Maggie never bit out of anger. She would bite for attention when she got old and that's another situation. Some rabbits are what I like to call "Attention Biters".
I suspect I'll be bitten a few more times during this process but I wanted to share the steps I take when dealing with a territorial bun.
I'd like to stress that food aggression is NO REASON to surrender a rabbit. Imagine being homeless and fighting to survive... Wouldn't you want to hoard everything you're given to eat? Correcting bad behavior can take time but it's worth it.
I hope this was helpful, informative, interesting or something of the sort that got some wheels turning.